In March 2020, US imports were severely affected by the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as retailers and manufacturers pulled back and cancelled orders of non-essential merchandise amid plunging consumer demand and factory closures. Asia imports alone declined 17.5% year over year to the lowest monthly volume since March 2013.
Although the U.S. is still in the grip of the pandemic and Trade Analysts have predicted a very slow recovery, there has been a promising, sharp upswing in July’s import numbers. The latest reports show that container imports into the ten largest US ports only decreased by 2.3% in July, compared to July of 2019. This represents a significant improvement on June’s 10% deficit and May’s 17% decline.
This import rally was led by US west coast ports, which saw a 2.9% year-on-year gain. Despite the US tariffs on Chinese imports, 43% of containers still originate from China.
While this is a great sign, many industry experts are still cautious about the outlook and sustainability of the better-than-expected July import volumes.
It is still unclear how this will all play out and if the demand side will be much lighter than normal due to both trade tensions and COVID-19.
For more information, contact Chris Barnard, Vice President – Projects & Market Development.